BJP trying to woo tribals in Madhya Pradesh


Barely eight months are left for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is continuously working on its strategy. The party is yet to recover from the debacle it suffered in the 2018 assembly polls in tribal-dominated seats. The influence of the Jai Yuva Adivasi Sangathan (JAYS) in Barwani, Dhar and Alirajpur districts dominated by tribal communities has also worried him. In the last assembly elections, this organization supported the Congress.

The BJP is now going to take the help of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act and PESA coordinators to bring the tribal community back on its side. The Act seeks to ensure self-governance through traditional gram sabhas in notified areas dominated by tribal communities. With the help of these coordinators, the party wants to kill two birds with one stone.

Opposition parties allege that these posts have been given to people associated with the ruling party so that they can help the party in the elections. The Congress says that instead of doing the work assigned to them, they will do the work of campaigning for the BJP.

The alleged scam in the recruitment of PESA coordinators was first exposed by Vyapam whistle blower and social activist Anand Rai. He put information about this on his social media account and gave information about the coordinators selected for several districts one after the other with photographs. Rai said that the district coordinator and six block coordinators in Jhabua district belong to the same institution.

Rai told BLiTZ, “The applications were invited through the Madhya Pradesh Entrepreneurship Development Center (SEDMAP). After receiving the applications, a merit list was prepared but suddenly without any information, it was canceled and coordinators were appointed through outsourcing from a private agency.

Rai alleges that it is a scam in which an officer close to the chief minister is suspected to be involved. They allege that the process was canceled after collecting crores of rupees from around 40,000 applicants. He says, ‘The district coordinator will be given an honorarium of Rs 40,000 per month and the block coordinator will be given Rs 25,000 per month. Obviously the controversy started as soon as the names of the selected people surfaced.

JAIS national patron and Congress MLA Heeralal Alava said that the BJP has cheated the unemployed tribal youth. He said that there was a scam in the recruitment of PESA coordinators and he would raise the matter in the assembly as well.

Describing these allegations as baseless, BJP’s state spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said, ‘Every recruitment in the state, be it on roll or through outsourcing, is done within the purview of the rules. If the opposition sees BJP and RSS people everywhere, then it is the fault of their vision.

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh wrote a letter to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan saying, ‘On February 8, SEDMAP issued a notice and canceled the applications of about 900 candidates selected for these posts. I have been told that people associated with your party have been recruited on these posts without interview. He has demanded a special task force to investigate the matter.

The focus of both the BJP and the Congress is on the 84 assembly seats where tribal voters can influence the election outcome. Of these, 47 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In 2018, the BJP had won 34 out of 84 seats, while in 2013 the party had won 59 seats. Thus in 2018, it lost 25 seats. The party wants to take those seats back in its fold.

This is the reason why soon after coming back to power in March 2020, the BJP started wooing the tribals. He organized several events one after the other. He started celebrating Tribal Pride Day in the honor of Birsa Munda, a famous tribal leader of Chhota Nagpur in the 19th century.

After this, the names of various places were changed to the names of tribal personalities. Habibganj railway station of Bhopal was renamed after Gond queen Kamlapati. Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the Martyrdom Day celebrations of tribal king Shankar Shah and his son Raghunath Shah.

Jais, who has a strong hold among the tribals, has worried both the BJP and the Congress. He had supported Congress in the last election but this time he is not opening his cards.


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